Painting is never an easy task. Getting all the supplies, taping off edges, tarping furniture, hauling out ladders, the list goes on. To make this challenging chore a little bit more tolerable, be sure you’re using the highest quality paint brushes you can afford.
The last thing any painter wants to do is peel bristles off of a freshly painted wall and go back over it a second time. High-quality paint brushes will make the job faster and smoother with fewer mistakes.
But how do you choose the right paint brush for decorating?
There are a few things to consider. You’ll want the right bristles for the job. Oil-based or gloss paints require different bristles than water-based paints, for example. The shape of the brush also matters, depending on the task at hand.
Below we’ve rounded up our picks for the best paint brushes for decorating your home and a handy shopping guide to help you decide exactly what kind of brush you need.
1. Purdy Monarch Elite Paint Brush Set
A well-known name in paint brushes, Purdy offers this Monarch Elite Paint Brush 3-Piece Set with three separate sizes to manage an array of painting tasks. Featuring 1-, 1.5, and 2-inch widths, these high-quality brushes are great for painters needing versatility and durability.
Designed to last 5 times longer than average paint brushes, these hand-made brushes are well-crafted with a stainless steel ferule and wooden beavertail handle for excellent grip and control.
This professional set is best used with emulsion paints but is suitable for all other types of paints, stains, and varnishes. Its synthetic bristles hold just the right amount of paint and the straight, flat edge gives you a wide brush stroke for fast and complete coverage.
Use the 1-inch brush on smaller, intricate projects like chairs or table legs and the wider, 2-inch brush on larger areas like cabinets or large furniture.
Customers love that these brushes are sturdy and easy to clean with very little shedding. If you’ve got a paint job that will require full coverage on small and large areas, this set is an excellent option.
2. Purdy Pro Extra Monarch 3-Inch Paint Brush
Our pick for the best paint brush for oil-based paints, and another excellent brush from the trusted Purdy brand, is the Pro Extra Monarch 3-Inch Paint Brush. Its wide 3-inch size is great for wide surface area jobs like walls or ceilings and it boasts smooth and even paint distribution on large surface areas.
Designed with thicker filaments than an average paint brush, this synthetic brush from Purdy works with high viscosity, oil-based paints and gloss finishes. It works just as well as a natural hair brush due to its extra stiff bristles which create a smooth and even finish on all surfaces, making it an excellent choice for exterior paint jobs.
It boasts a 30% increase in the amount of paint it distributes onto walls than any other Purdy brush.
Those who have used this brush love that the brush retains its shape and does a top-quality job in less time than other brushes. If your job requires an efficient, long-lasting paint brush from a trusted brand, the Purdy Pro Extra is an exceptional pick.
3. Dulux Perfect Finish Paint Brushes
Another set of paint brushes, the Dulux Perfect Finish 3-Pack features a trio of brushes in different sizes to handle a variety of paint projects. Like the Purdy set above, this pack comes with 1-, 1.5-, and 2-inch wide brushes. The 1-inch brush features a unique triangle shape that is not available in any other brushes on our list.
This shape allows for precision edging on detail work like windows and door frames which normally take quite a bit of finesse from a regular brush.
The Dulux brush’s synthetic bristles work with both solvent and water-based paints and are designed with split bristle tips for a smooth and uniform finish. With little to no bristle loss, these brushes are durable, long-lasting, and easy to clean, perfect for painters needing a quality set of brushes suitable for everyday use.
The plastic handle with a comfortable, ergonomic grip also doubles as a lid lever to open paint cans with ease, making these paint brushes a customer favorite for efficient and easy painting and clean up.
4. Harris 101011007 Woodwork & Gloss Essentials Brush 10-Pack
Our pick for the best value paint brush, this Harris 101011007 Essentials Paint Brush 10-pack is an affordable option with a wide variety of brush choices. For oil-based or gloss paints, you’ll find four brushes ranging from .5-inch to 2-inch, and for emulsion paints you’ll find six brushes in the same size options.
You can read more about which paint brushes best suit oil-based or gloss paints compared to water-based or emulsion paints in our buying guide below.
This type of set is an excellent choice for decorating work on walls, ceilings, and interior woodwork. The smaller brush sizes are perfect for intricate detail and the larger sizes will deliver more paint onto your larger projects like walls, ceilings, or exterior surfaces.
Customers love the quality they get for the affordable price tag and the variety of brush sizes that come in the set. We recommend these brushes for decorators on a budget who are looking for good value in a set of paint brushes.
5. Wooster Brush Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush
This Wooster Silver Tip Angle Sash Paintbrush is our top pick for cutting-in, which, let’s face it, is the most difficult and time consuming part of any paint job. The angled design allows you to adjust the pressure you use on the brush to change the size of your brush stroke.
The Woost brush’s soft bristles are flexible and offer a precise and clean brush stroke, perfect for neat edges and fewer mistakes when painting the lines where your walls and ceiling meet, windows and doors, and other corners and angles.
Ideal for latex paints, enamels, and polyurethane, this 3-inch brush is great for edges and molding. The synthetic, polyester filaments are chemically tipped which means you’ll get a smooth and even finish on your project from this precise, angled brush.
A rust-resistant ferule and comfortable hardwood handle make this a durable and long-lasting brush for every nook and cranny in your current paint project.
Home Decorating Paintbrush Buying Guide
As we mentioned above, you need specific styles of brushes depending on the type of painting you need to do. The size, the shape, and the bristles matter and you can’t use a single paintbrush for every job. Below we cover the important things you should look for when choosing a paint brush for your particular painting project.
The most common brush sizes fall between 1-inch and 6-inches with the 2-inch paint brush being the most common of all. You will find ½ inch brushes as well as larger sizes, but for the most part, the common brush sizes will cover all of your painting needs.
A 1-inch or 1-½ inch brush is best for narrow trim or woodworking projects, while the 2- to 2-½ inch brushes are better fit for wide trim and the 3-inch and larger brushes are best for walls or cabinets with a large surface area and little to no detail work.
Correct Brush Shape
Much like choosing the size of your brush, you’ll also choose the shape depending on the project. A flat-edged brush will pick up a lot of paint and distribute it in one large, even stroke. These brushes are best for wide, flat areas such as ceilings, walls, and doors.
An angled brush is your best choice for cutting-in around edges. Whether it be ceiling lines or furniture details, the angled edge provides more precision than a flat-edge brush does. The amount of pressure you apply to the brush will make your paint stroke thinner or wider giving you much more control over your paint lines, which is necessary when cutting-in.
Paint Brush Bristle Fibers
Standard paint brushes come with two different types of bristles: synthetic, which are usually made from usually nylon and/or polyester, and natural, which are commonly made using animal hair. The type of brush you use depends on the kind of paint you’ve chosen for your project.
- Synthetic – Brushes made with nylon or polyester fibers (or a blend of both) are best for water-based paints and stains. The stiffness of the bristles hold their shape for a smooth and even finish. They are easy to clean and durable and with the proper care, they can last you for years. The one downside to a synthetic brush is that it picks up less paint to distribute than a natural hair brush.
- Natural – Natural hair brushes are an ideal choice for oil-based or gloss paints. They are softer and tend to split, creating smooth and even paint distribution with fewer chances for streaking. They pick up and hold paint better than their synthetic counterparts, but they don’t provide as precise strokes as synthetic brushes do and they do tend to shed when they are new.
While our buying guide provides suggestions as to what type of brush is best for the job, a lot of painters will say their preferences may stray from the norm.
Some painters prefer a synthetic brush for oil-based projects and some paint professionals can do small, detailed trim with a wide, 3-inch brush. Regardless of your preference, and while keeping the above tips in mind, be sure to purchase a high-quality, well-rated paint brush.
It will save you time in the long run and you’ll have to do less touching up and fewer fixes by spending a little more up-front.